2013 NFL Draft Scouting Notes: USC vs. Hawaii

Robert Woods USC

Robert Woods and Matt Barkley are top prospects, but the most impressive player on USC was a cornerback. (Photo: US Presswire)


NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

This game is the classic David vs. Goliath. On one hand there is USC which is loaded up and stocked with NFL Draft prospects, many of whom will be selected in the first couple rounds. On the other hand you have Hawaii, who will be lucky if any of the eligible players play in the NFL.

Who did the prospects fare in the game? Check out our scouting notes on the game here.


#7 Matt Barkley, QB
– First throw of the game, gets rid of the ball quickly and accurately to Lee, who takes it 75 yards for at TD
– Tries to fit in two difficult throws, both are accurate, but into tight coverage, not the best decision
– Under-throws Woods on the hitch too low
– Beautiful “go” route to Lee, ball is thrown with proper loft and velocity. Hawaii CB interfering on every play
– Hangs in the pocket, with rush bearing down and garbage at his feet. Accurate throw into tight coverage
– Barkley is one of the best at putting just the right touch on balls, 3 step drop and then lofts a soft and accurate pass to Woods in the end zone for a touchdown
– Has really good timing with both Woods and Lee and anticpates where they will be well
– Another accurate deep ball, could have been thrown maybe a step further, but Lee drops it
– Throws off back foot and can’t step into throw, First real bad throw of the day
– On 3rd and long, Barkley throws 12 yard in cut to Lee, the ball is low and in stride where only he could get it. Lee drops it, but the throw could have been a touch higher. Both at fault there.
– One of the best at play action. Shows the ball and then hides it well
– Great back shoulder throw to Woods on the goal line. Threw it to were only Woods could get it.
– Audibles at the line, has great rapport with Woods and will trust him to “go get it”, Woods interfered with
– Alternating between shotgun and under center. Good footwork in pocket, when he steps into the throw he is very accurate
– Has had about five balls dropped by his WR, otherwise his performance would be that much more impressive
– Exhibits mobility in the pocket, sheds rusher with shoulder shrug and throws on the run

Overview: It was a strong performance by Barkley, but we didn’t learn anything new. For much of the game it was like stealing candy from a baby. His game management is always impressive, as is the touch he displays on deep and sideline balls. He really trust the players around him and lets them go up and make plays. He stayed in the pocket and seemed unfazed by the imposing rush. This was just a tune-up for Barkley, who will face much tougher challenges as the season progresses.

#2 Robert Woods (JR), WR
– Came all the way across the field to lead block for Marquise Lee on his long TD
– Couldn’t go up and get the fade pass from Barkley, CB Mike Edwards all over him
– Does a good job of stemming his hitch-in route
– Comes back hard to the ball and makes a diving catch
– Gets off press coverage with a stutter step and beats the CB outside, separates and catches the ball for a 20 yard touchdown, pretty route and very good acceleration after the stutter step
– Is getting open in tight spaces, using hand checks, subtle little moves to create space
– Impressed with both Woods’ and Lee’s ability to run block down field
– Third or Fourth pass interference call he’s drawn, being held every route
– Tremendous adjustment while ball is in the air to catch back shoulder throw for TD
– Looks much more healthy than he did at the end of last season, ankle doesn’t seem to be a problem
– Once again displays his strong hands and body control, reaching back and making acrobatic catch
– Bad drop on skinny post, hits him right in hands, probably goes for a TD

Overview: Like Barkley, we didn’t learn much new from Woods. He was able to beat press coverage a number of times and displayed his wide range of routes he can run. The fade/go route for his first touchdown was a beauty. He drew 4 pass interference calls and was constantly held throughout the game. His ability to line up at three different receiver positions is impressive. He did have one drop, which would have gone for a big gain.

#21 Nikell Robey (JR), CB
– Good change of direction, put foot in the ground and came back to the ball
– Works as the #1 punt returner
– Excellent ball skills, comes over the top of the WR to tip the ball for an INT
– Definitely needs to add weight. Question is going to be a constant question mark, but plays bigger
– Very thin, looks wiry, with quick hips, has blanketed these Hawaii WR easily so far
– Presses at the line, opens hips nicely and runs with WR, doesn’t bite on the double move what-so-ever and continues his coverage down field. This WR doesn’t have a chance to get open right now
– Really good bend in his hips, quick back peddle, everything I like in a CB
– Another lightning quick pass break up, changes direction while ball’s in the air. Beats WR to the spot
– Showed explosion as a PR, picks up bouncing ball and looks like he is shot out of a cannon
– Speed looks exceptional, 4.35-4.40 speed, a real natural athlete
– His hip fluidity and “quick twitch” movements in coverage remind me of the way Janoris Jenkins moved at Senior Bowl

Overview: Robey was the USC player I was most impressed with. He is 5’8″ 165 pounds, but is one of the most impressive cover corners in this year’s draft class. He has great hips and looks so fluid on the field. He is exceptionally quick and broke on a number of routes to break-up passes. He can flip his hips and run with anyone. One of the best athletes in college football, he also looked explosive as a punt returner. He will have to answer questions about his height and frame, but overall he is one of the most impressive corners and athletes in the country.

#7 TJ McDonald, SAF
– Plays extremely deep as the “center fielder”
– Recognizes the play, creeps up into the box and fills the gap
– Makes an aggressive and swift form tackle, bringing the RB down for a loss
– When he decides he is going to “go”, he makes quick and sudden bursts
– Comes down and covers the RB out in the flat. Runs with him easily and delivers a big hit on him to break up pass
– Closing speed finally evident, gets from hash-mark to sideline while ball in the air to hit WR and break up play
– Is bigger than some of the USC linebackers, will be able to cover TE in the NFL easily
– On the next play, he is over-aggresive on quick pass and over runs the WR, allows for YAC

Overview: It was a quiet game for McDonald and the USC safeties. When he is playing centerfield, it’s tough to evaluate on film. I was impressed with the way he comes down in man coverage and cover’s the backs and tight ends. He easily ran with them and delivered big hits on both, breaking up the pass. His most impressive play was when he was able to get from the hash to the sideline to hit the WR as the ball was just about to be caught, his hit disrupted the WR and broke up the play. I once again saw a couple plays where he was over-aggressive and over ran the WR allowing for YAC and that’s the book on McDonald.

#78 Khaled Holmes, OC
– Good strength at point of attack
– Keeps his knees bent and plays with good leverage
– Slides and moves his feet well in pass protection, able to stop strong Hawaii DT in their steps
– Very accurate and quick shotgun snaps so far
– Chipped and got out in front of screen as quick as any center I have seen, very impressed with his quicks
– Very good combo block, intial double team gets great movement, moves onto next level
– 4th and 2 – can’t hold block, but forces DT to go around him, creates just enough time and space
– Gets good movement on DT, able to get his head on the right size and seal off the hole
– Anchors well against the bull rush, sits in his stance and exhibits good bend

Overview: Holmes’ ability to get to the second level was what I was most impressed with. He chipped well and got out to the second level very quickly. He wasn’t challenged very much by the Hawaii interior defenders and was able to win the one on one battles. In goal line situations and tight running areas he struggled to sustain his blocks a little bit. As far as his shotgun snapping goes, he does well, I didn’t notice any snap that Barkley had to reach for.

#29 Jawanza Starling, SAF
– Through the first quarter, he hasn’t shown up yet.
– Has come up into the box to fake blitz a number of times, he finally comes and fills running lane
– Looks like a good athlete, cornerback build
– Picks up the TE in man coverage, tries to jam him a little bit, but the TE runs right by
– Goes low on his tackles, has been forced to tackle in the open field much, but seems willing
– Doesn’t get a very good jam on the Tight End again, would like to see him get more physical

Overview: Honestly, it was tough to evaluate Starling in this game. The game was a blowout and the Hawaii offense struggled to get going. When I did notice him it was when he came into the box and either blitzed or picked up the tight end in man coverage. He looks like a very good athlete and looks like a corner back on the field. I will be watching more of Starling as the year goes on to try and get a better feel for him.

* DE Wes Horton did not play in this game

2013 NFL Draft prospects from Hawaii are on page two.

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